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The Smokefree Action Coalition is a group of organisations committed to promoting public health. We came together initially to lobby for smokefree workplaces and are now committed to reducing the harm caused by tobacco more generally.
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Following the publication of the independent review of evidence undertaken by Sir Cyril Chantler, the Government has announced that it is moving forward with plans to introduce standardised tobacco packaging.
Speaking in the commons, Jane Ellison MP, Minister for Public Health said that the report found it was "very likely to have a positive impact" on public health. The Government will shortly publish draft regulations, alongside a short, final consultation on the policy.
On 10th February 2014, the House of Commons debated the tobacco amendments to the Children and Families Bill which had been added at third reading in the House of Lords. These amendments:
• Enable the Government to introduce regulations requiring standardised packaging for tobacco products.
• Enable the Government to introduce regulations making it an offence to sell e-cigarettes to children under 18.
• Make it an offence for an adult to buy cigarettes for anyone under 18 (proxy purchasing)
• Enable the Government to introduce regulations making it an offence to smoke in a private vehicle carrying children.
The amendments on standardised packaging, proxy purchasing and age of sale were Government amendments and the vote which was whipped was 453 in favour and 24 against, a majority of 429. There was a free vote on the amendment to introduce a ban on smoking in cars when children are present and this was approved by 376 to 107, a majority of 269.
The Bill is now waiting for Royal Assent to become law. To bring the legislation into effect will require regulations to be developed and put before Parliament for a further vote.
On smoking in cars, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said that David Cameron thinks that "the time has come" for a new offence of exposing children to smoke in vehicles.
On standardised packaging, the Government will decide whether to proceed with regulations after the Chantler review has reported (link to announcement from November). For more information on standardised packaging, click here.
In November 2011, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health conducted an inquiry into smoking in private vehicles. The report can be downloaded as a pdf by clicking here. The British Lung Foundation has produced a briefing for MPs which available for download here (pdf).